skip to main content

Together With The Ivors Academy We’re Calling For Support For Shielding Musicians and Music Creators

Joint research by the MU and The Ivors Academy has revealed that 70% of musicians, songwriters and composers who are still shielding are facing financial hardship because of their continued need to shield.

Published: 10 September 2021 | 12:16 PM Updated: 10 September 2021 | 2:35 PM
Photograph of a masked woman sitting outdoors, writing into a notebook and wearing headphones.
Nearly 60% of musicians and music creators have received no financial support whilst shielding. Photo credit: Disabled and Here

Worryingly, over 80% do not believe the Government has a clear plan on how to support people who still need to shield to protect their health or the health of someone they live with.

The research was conducted in collaboration with ConnectsMusic.com and with the support of Help Musicians and Attitude is Everything.

Almost 40% of the 340 respondents to the joint survey, drawn from all sectors of the industry and all career stages, will still have to shield beyond the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and the end of the vaccine roll-out to protect their health or the health of someone they live with.

Just under half of these are concerned that infection with Covid-19, regardless of the vaccine, may complicate other health conditions, and 15% will need to shield by proxy to protect someone they are living with.

The new research reveals that almost 70% of musicians and music creators with a continued need to shield have lost more than 50% of their usual income or work during the last 12 months and, of these, almost 50% have lost between 75-100% of their earnings.

Nearly 60% of musicians and music creators have received no financial support whilst shielding (60% of these because they did not meet the eligibility criteria) and over 60% anticipate they will lose 50-100% of their usual income or work opportunities over the next 12 months because of their continued need to shield.

We’re calling on the UK Government to take a number of actions

The MU and The Ivors Academy are calling on the UK Government to:

  • Extend the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and the Furlough Scheme for this group of workers and
  • Make them automatically eligible until they can safely return to work.

Further policy recommendations to Government include:

  • Providing clear, accessible guidance for employers on good ventilation
  • Providing clear, accessible guidance for employers and workplaces on supporting this group of workers to return to the workplace
  • Consult with this group of workers in decision making processes so they are not excluded from the sector’s recovery

We’re also making recommendations for the music industry

The joint research also highlighted that almost 60% of shielding musicians and music creators are concerned that they will not be considered for work in the future because health and safety requirements may be more complex when engaging them.

Recommendations for the music industry as it continues to reopen include:

  • Observing existing protocols such as mask wearing and social distancing · Mandatory testing and support for Music Venue Trusts #take a test initiative
  • Continued remote and hybrid working for those who still need to shield for their own or another's safety
  • Consult this group of workers on the best measures that can be put in place to allow a safe and supported return to work
  • Support and implement the We Shall Not be Removed alliance’s 7 Inclusive Principles
  • Providing mental health support for this group of workers
  • Provide support to enable this group of workers to maintain their professional networks

The Government must provide clearer, accessible guidance

Horace Trubridge, MU General Secretary says:

“The pandemic has been an extremely tough time for people who have needed to shield.

“We know that musicians, music creators and audiences are looking forward to the music industry opening fully and are relieved to return to some sort of normality. But there are still many musicians and music creators who will not be able to return to work because of their legitimate fears about their risk from Covid-19.

“These musicians and music creators are concerned about their futures and how they will be able to cope financially.

“Musicians and music creators with a continued need to shield are being left behind, many with no support.

“The Government must provide clearer, accessible guidance, and ensure that this group of workers can access financial support to stay safe and not be forced to choose between going to work and their health.

“The Musicians’ Union will work together with The Ivors Academy to provide support for wellbeing, opportunities for musicians and music creators to maintain their professional networks, and provide assistance to access funding opportunities and would encourage the rest of the music industry to support us in this work.”

Ongoing support must be provided to music creators that need to continue shielding

Graham Davies, CEO of The Ivors Academy says:

“For many, the worst of the pandemic is hopefully coming to an end. But for those that must keep shielding, this is not the case and we are drawing attention to their plight – they mustn’t be forgotten or left behind.

“Our survey tells the story of many music makers who have lost the majority or all of their income and will be unable to repair this financial damage for some time to come.

“While many return to some sense of normality, others are still locked down and shut out of the human interactions and economic recovery that post-lockdown brings.

“We call on the Government and music industry to provide ongoing support to music creators that need to continue shielding.”

The results of our research have already been covered in detail by The Guardian – and you can read their article, which includes interviews with numerous shielding musicians, online.

Representing and advocating on behalf of disabled musicians

At the MU we advocate on behalf of disabled musicians to ensure their rights are upheld and strengthened – where they encounter discrimination, we’ll challenge it. 

Join our Disabled Member Network

Our nation-wide Member Network is a space where disabled musicians can connect, network and make positive change across the MU and the music industry. The Network ensures that the voices of disabled members are heard, and that opportunities for activism and leadership are created.

Join the Disabled Member Network

Representing and advocating on behalf of disabled musicians

Continue reading

Photograph of a bass musician standing on a busy looking stage with orange and purple light shining over them

Government’s Response to DCMS Select Committee’s Streaming Report is Welcome

The MU, The Ivors Academy and Tom Gray, Founder of the #BrokenRecord Campaign welcome the Government’s response to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Streaming Report, but call for firm action now to put the value of music back in the hands of music makers.

Published: 22 September 2021

Read more about Government’s Response to DCMS Select Committee’s Streaming Report is Welcome
Photograph from the back of a string section in an orchestra, looking forward across scores and players holding violins.

Health and Safety In Orchestras

For those of you returning to work in orchestras, you need to be sure your employer or engager is offering you a safe place to work. This may not be straightforward!

Published: 17 September 2021

Read more about Health and Safety In Orchestras
Photograph of a close up of a young flute player, practicing in a classroom setting. Behind them we can see other performers and a teacher figure.

MU Urges New Education Secretary and Schools Minister to Work Together to Protect Music Education

Following the sacking of Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Schools Minister Nick Gibb – and their replacement by Nadhim Zahawi and Robin Walker respectively – the MU urges the new ministers to work together to address systemic problems affecting music education in England.

Published: 17 September 2021

Read more about MU Urges New Education Secretary and Schools Minister to Work Together to Protect Music Education